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Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Is Your Website Content Helping Or Hurting Your Online Marketing Campaign?

Content within your website is the most basic form of marketing for your business.  Throughout my time as a Virtual Assistant at The Write Hand, I have seen websites make or break a company.  Let me help you with your website, content, social media and marketing to take your companies online presence to the next step.

Content marketing has become more popular than ever since its rise to prominence after Google’s “Panda” update back in 2011. Website content can be highly valuable, and crucial for many independent online marketing strategies, but some people have come to see content as purely a good thing.

The Write Hand

In reality, the effectiveness and value of your content depends heavily on the type of content you’re creating, and how you’re implementing it. And the scale doesn’t start from zero, either; in fact, bad content can actually do more damage to your campaign than doing nothing at all.

So how can you tell if your website content is helping or hurting your campaign?

Read full article here.

Why Content Matters

Let’s start by analyzing why content matters in the first place, and the different ways you can gain value from it:

  • SEO fodder. First, content is necessary for a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. SEO is all about making your website as visible as possible in search engines, which means creating lots of pages that can be indexed and maximizing the value of those pages. Adding new content gives search engine crawlers more material to index, and can make your website more relevant for specific search queries.
  • Reputation building. Content is also valuable for building your brand reputation and proving your expertise to new and recurring visitors; it’s your opportunity to impress people. High-quality content will make people appreciate, respect, or trust your brand, and the best content has the potential to go viral, attracting even more traffic to your site and earning links that boost your domain authority.
  • Conversion attraction. Content is also an opportunity to convert your audience, or get them to take a desired action. If you’re writing about how to choose a bicycle to buy, for example, you can end your article with a link to your most popular bicycles. In this context, content serves as a traffic director that helps turn your visitors into paying customers.

Three Key Traps

In all three of these applications, content can be valuable, but people tend to fall into three major traps of thinking that prevent them from using content properly. These traps are influenced by biases and inexperienced understanding, and can cause you to unknowingly execute a content campaign that not only doesn’t help you; it actively works against you:

  1. Quantity matters more than quality. Because content has many benefits, some marketers unjustly assume that more content is always better, and then spend their efforts making as much content as possible—rather than making the best content possible. This “quantity over quality” mindset is counterproductive, since even one piece of bad content can damage your reputation.
  2. Content is a means to an end. Some marketers see content as a means to an end, viewing it solely as a vessel to get people to convert. They treat it like an advertising opportunity, rather than an opportunity to provide value or benefit to their audience. Doing so may betray your audience’s trust.
  3. Strategic mimicry achieves similar results. Other marketers see similar brands that have been successful with content marketing and attempt to duplicate their strategies. While in theory, this seems like a sound approach, in reality, it cheapens the content you produce because it means your content lacks originality—and it’s rare to capture the essence that made the original strategy successful in the first place.

How Content Can Hurt

So how can content actively hurt your campaign, rather than improving it or letting it simmer?

  • Thin content and reputation. “Thin” content is content that doesn’t have value for readers; it might be devoid of details or meaningful information, it might be woefully short, or it might be surface-level, repetitive, or a derivative of other works. If a reader encounters this content on your website, they might leave thinking less of your brand, or seeing you as amateurs, rather than experts.
  • Thin content and SEO rankings. Thin content is also bad for your SEO rankings. Google’s algorithm detects the qualitative value of content based on many different factors (which aren’t publicly available), and if it determines that one of your pages is low-quality, you could suffer a mild penalty throughout your entire site.
  • Marketing spam and distrust. If readers think your content has been contrived for the sole purpose of attracting more visitors, or for earning more conversions, they’ll come to see you as a spammer, and may distrust any content you publish in the future. Remember, your primary goal in content marketing is to provide value for your audience.
  • Improperly targeted content and alienation. If your content isn’t targeted to the right audience, you could end up attracting the wrong types of people—and pushing away the readers you need the most. You might see decent traffic figures, but your conversion rates and profitability will be way off from where they could be.
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17 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs in 2017

17 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs in 2017

Being an entrepreneur with my Online Business Management and Virtual Assistant network, I was quite curious when I read the title of this article. But them I was rather shocked when I read the list of apps. I don’t use any of the apps listed and I am a rather successful entrepreneur; go figure. I’m going to check out some of the apps in this article and see how they fit into my life and my company. I’d also like to add a few apps that I find exceptionally helpful…

Pages for FB – I manage a lot of client FB business pages and this app is a one stop way to keep them all straight without having to go to my own FB; this keeps me from getting side-tracked by my own FB shenanigans.

Groups for FB – Similar to Pages but as the name implies it helps you manage all the groups you’re in on FB. Again, I can manage these groups or post in these groups as needed without getting sucked into the FB vortex.

RoboForm – I have a boatload of logins and passwords for myself and all my clients. This is a password and auto refill app that helps me keep everything straight and gives me access to all my passwords across many devices. The security is above great and highly recommend this app.

HootSuite – With all the client social media we manage, HootSuite is a wonderful tool I can use from my laptop or iPhone. We are able to make social media posts to a boatload of social feeds such as FB pages, FB groups, LinkedIn, LinkedIn groups, Twitter, and so much more. You can setup your posts immediately, a future date, or even allow HootSuite to choose the best time for the most traffic.

DropBox – I have loads of information that has to be saved for myself and clients. This is a cloud based platform for saving all your files. Once you set it up, it functions just like your folder in Windows; no need to go to the web-based platform unless you have a unique reason to do so. For iPhone, with one tap you can download your pictures and save them at any time. This is awesome considering how many photos I take. I save them and then delete the ones I don’t need access regularly; saving value space in my phone’s memory.

BaseCamp – I recently purchased a subscription to BaseCamp and I swear it’s a fabulous project management tool. Whether using it on my laptop or my phone; I can be in constant communication with my team. BaseCamp is a wonderful way to setup clients and projects while assigning tasks and so much more. It keeps me and my clients project well organized and keeps my team on task and on schedule.

17 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs in 2017

If you’re like most people in business today, there always seem to be a million things on your to-do list and you don’t know where to start.

You need to conduct research, streamline collaboration, increase communication, sell your wares, reach your fan base, log your time and keep track of your accounts, to mention just a few. How the heck will you do it all? Well, there’s an app for that.

In fact, there are quite a few. Here are the top 17 apps every entrepreneur should be downloading to make the most of each day.

1. Accompany
Touted as a virtual “chief of staff,” Accompany does all the research necessary to prep you for big meetings by emailing you a concise briefing beforehand. It provides you with all the pertinent information you will need to succeed in any situation. Accompany works by connecting to your Google or Microsoft email account, your mobile calendar and your Facebook and Twitter accounts. It examines your personal data and goes through biographies and other information online to create summaries of each of your contacts.

2. Pocket
This “save for later” app allows you to file away useful articles, interesting videos and any other content that you want to hang on to for future use. When you find something you want to view later, simply put it in your Pocket, and you’ll be able to access it from your phone, tablet or computer, even without internet access.

3. Slack
This team communication tool gathers group exchanges into one place, making information instantly available and searchable wherever you go. This cloud-based collaboration application began as an internal tool used by a now-defunct online game. Slack is currently the fastest-growing B2B application, used by over 4 million active users every day.

4. Motivation Daily & Positivity
If you are looking for a daily dose of motivation to keep you on track to achieve important goals and big dreams, this app is for you. It comes in a streamlined, simple format, which includes perfect quotes to keep you focused when you’re tempted to slack off. Whether you’re pursuing health and fitness goals, prepping for a major project at work or school, or just need some inspiration, this app will help get you there.

5. Buffer
As a powerful social media publishing tool, Buffer streamlines the process of reaching your fan base by making it easy to schedule content on social media. It helps increase your reach by ensuring you get the most out of each post. With one click, you can share content across multiple social networks and ensure that it’s posted at the optimal time so more followers will see your updates.

6. Salesforce1
Salesforce1 empowers you to connect directly with your customers and run your business from your phone. It channels all your customer information into a single, integrated platform, enabling you to build a client-centered business that includes marketing, sales, customer service and business analysis. This gives you a more complete understanding of your customers, allowing you to drive your business’s success and make smarter decisions from anywhere in real time.

7. Square
Square credit-card processing works for any size business, and is easy to do from anywhere. Square allows you to accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, all for one low rate. Once you sign up, they will send you a free magstripe reader (their newest reader even takes chip cards). Or you can use your iPad in a Square Stand for countertop sales. The Square Register app also includes other useful tools to help you manage every area of your business.

8. Toggl
Toggl is an insanely simple way of tracking and logging your time that eliminates the need for timesheets. This app allows you to track time from a browser, computer or smartphone so you never again lose a minute of billable time. You can organize your time by project or tag, and mark as billable. If you forget to turn it on, just enter the time later.

9. Trello
Trello is collaboration tool organizes your projects into boards, lists and cards so you can better prioritize work and life. At a single glance you can see what’s being worked on, who’s working on what and where in the process a project is. It makes project management–which can include work assignments, family chores or travel plans–easy and enjoyable.

10. MobileDay
This one-touch dialing app gets you into all your conference calls on time and unflustered. With MobileDay, there’s no more searching for misplaced conference call PINs or passcodes. The app auto-syncs with your iOS or Android calendar and plugs you into your calls with one click, so you can connect to that business call from anywhere.

11. Workflow
Workflow allows you to connect the best features of your applications, so you can combine multiple steps across a number of apps into a single tap. With Workflow you can create shortcuts, manage your media and share content. It has been lauded as the “Swiss Army knife” for completing complicated tasks, and basically feels like you’re designing your own app (but much easier).

12. Box
Box offers a simple, secure way to share files and collaborate with coworkers, customers and partners. It allows you to centralize your files, keep your team on track and simplify workflow, not to mention ditch email attachments. You can create, edit and review documents with others in real time from anywhere and on any device, and can view full documents without needing to download the file first.

13. Wunderlist
Wunderlist helps you tick off your personal and professional to-do list by getting your life in sync and making it easy to share your lists. A cloud-based task-management application, it makes sharing grocery lists, working collaboratively on projects or planning household activities and vacations easier. It syncs with your phone, tablet and computer so you can access your lists from anywhere.

14. CloudMagic
If your inbox fills up quicker than a sinking ship takes on water, you need CloudMagic. This email management application is known for its searching capabilities, cross-platform capabilities and user interface. It can scour all of the email you’ve ever received to locate exactly what you’re looking for. It supports multiple accounts, and even includes a feature called Cards, which connects services like Evernote, Pocket, Trello, Salesforce and Microsoft OneNote. This makes it easier for users to get the information they are looking for without leaving their email.

15. Wave
Wave helps you create and send professional invoices, estimates and receipts in seconds. It keeps your business organized and running smoothly by tracking income and expenses effortlessly, with receipt-scanning tools and bank connections. It includes a suite of online small-business software products, including direct bank-data imports, invoicing and expense tracking, customizable charts of accounts and journal transactions.

16. HelloSign
HelloSign is the easiest and simplest way to handle contracts or other agreements on the fly, because it lets you view and sign without visiting the office. This app also eliminates the burden of needing to print, sign and scan a document to be sent back. It allows you to just use your fingertip to sign any PDF file and forward it to the necessary party.

17. 1Password
Do away with all those sticky notes with your passwords scrawled on them. 1Password allows you to collect all those codes in one safe place online. This app keeps all your passwords and important information protected behind your Master Password. It has extensions or plug-ins for all the major browsers, and can securely store other things, like credit cards, bank accounts and licenses. You can save all the entries from a webpage form, so you can remember answers to security questions or other information.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Entrepreneurship

 

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How to Manage Team Dynamics as an Entrepreneur

How to Manage Team Dynamics as an Entrepreneur

How to Manage Team Dynamics as an Entrepreneur

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As a biz owner, I know what it’s like to go from a start up which is a one woman team to an actual team with other team members helping me. This article gives some neat tricks on how to keep your team strong. Enjoy and share! 

Back in 2009, at a street festival in Cambridge, Mass., Todd Horton founded KangoGift alongside a team of four. What started as a concept of sending a gift to a friend via text message has since evolved into an HR software company helping to improve employee-recognition programs.

“We were successful because we were aligned to a common goal,” Horton, now CEO, told me. “We were in constant communication. We were excited about the potential and the unknown.”

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Horton and his team had earlier developed a website; they then leveraged a booth at the street festival to spark interest in their company and identify local businesses as potential partners. In the end, the team wrote 3,000 lines of code, struck deals with five local businesses and processed over 200 gifts that first weekend. They launched KangoGift in 30 days.

“When building a team, entrepreneurs need to keep in mind that people want to work on something bigger than themselves,” Horton said. “It could be a social mission — or feeling like they are working on something cutting edge that will offer an emotional benefit to people.”

Often, it’s easy for a small startup team to work together effectively. As KangoGift’s experience illustrates, founding teams can be united and driven by their shared vision for the company. However, once the company begins to add new team members, this ease of collaboration can be difficult to maintain.

Here are five approaches to teamwork you should consider:

Start thinking about teams early.
“Sometimes, when a new company is expanding, instead of building a team, an entrepreneur simply hires people for their individual technical expertise,” Rick Gibbs, performance specialist at Insperity in New York City, told me. “As a result, not much thought is given to the idea of this ‘group’ being cohesive or having the ability to work together.”

As the team begins to grow, this can lead to conflict, especially if the employees have to come out of their bubbles and work as a team yet have little in common with anyone else.

“Often, there are groups of very smart, capable people who simply clash because relatively little attention has been given to the idea of what it means to perform well on a team,” Gibbs said.

How to avoid this issue? Build a team-oriented culture from the get-go. During the interview process, hink about how job candidates might perform on teams — as opposed to hiring for individual skills alone. Especially in a startup,your first few hires will work more closely together than a more established company, so it’s essential to consider new hires’ experience with teamwork.

Also, during the interviews, ask candidates to describe specific examples of past projects they completed on a team. Include current team members in the interview process to ensure they get on well with new hires.

The tech: Building a startup team that will work well together can start with referrals, and one tool that makes referrals easier is Boon. Boon’s matching algorithms identify candidates and engage the right employees, custom rewards and gamification to inspire action. Integrations and analytics dashboards provide clarity and integrity to the program.

Foster transparency and trust.
Because startup teams can consist of people who have varying strengths and weaknesses, “Transparency is the key to success,” Seattle-based Prime Opt career coach Michella Chiu told me.

When leaders aren’t transparent with their team members, morale decreases. In fact, according to a 2015 Work Management Survey by Wrike of nearly 1,500 business professionals, 52 percent of employees listed missing information as a top stressor at work.

Transparency and trust go hand in hand. If teammates don’t trust one other, the work environment goes from being collaborative to competitive. This hurts everyone’s productivity. Set a good example by being open and honest with all team members. Communicate and share information that impacts the group.

Build a culture of trust by encouraging all employees to contribute.

“Hire great people and get out of their way,” Jacob Shriar, director of content at Officevibe in Montreal, told me. “Trust them to do good work and give them the autonomy they deserve.”

Shriar and his team recently traveled to Prague for a project, which was ultimately successful, he said he realized, because of the deep levels of trust and respect within the team.

Chiu,the career coach, agrees. “Build a solid system or set of procedures to facilitate better communication,” she said. “Make exchanging ideas easier for everyone.”

When everyone inputs ideas to the team’s successes, trust increases, not just between team members and leadership but among one other.

The tech: Social Chorus allows companies and team members to not only easily communicate in a way that helps them work together, but also to stay connected with and informed about the company.

Know how to direct energies.
When employees are asked to do something that doesn’t come naturally to them, they’ll likely expend extra energy. This can quickly lead to burnout. However, when teams are built around their complementary strengths, everyone can focus on what comes easily to him or her individually.

“It’s less about strengths and weaknesses than it is about identifying the areas an individual has the most energy for,” Karen Gordon, CEO of 5 Dynamics in Austin, Texas, told me. “This is where productive collaboration can be improved.”

Gordon explained that her company had developed its “5 Dynamics methodology” as a way of looking at work as a process, where each step requires full focus, one at a time:

Understand the complete situation, see relationships and develop creative solutions.

Build a team and excite its members about the idea.

Develop a plan using data. Create schedules, budgets, timetables, clear roles and rules. Predict problems that may arise.

Hold the team accountable for implementing the plan, then measure its performance.

Assess performance of the previous Dynamics by measuring external success and internal satisfaction within the team. Make changes to the process to improve both of these areas next time.

Build a diverse team with varying skills. Then, identify tasks based on each employee’s strengths, where he or she will excel and still feel challenged. Look at the needs of employees individually rather than focusing on creating efficiencies with blanket solutions.

“This will create a team environment that avoids burnout, fosters positivity and success and offers pathways for communication that were previously unknown,” Gordon said.

The tech: Avilar’s competency management tools identify and close critical employee skills gaps that could derail organizational success.

Show gratitude.
The greatest team in the world can become unproductive if the team members aren’t appreciated for their hard work. Acknowledge impressive outcomes of teamwork, even if it’s through a simple “thank you.”

“Any number of us working for a startup could easily find work making far more money for much bigger names, but we chose something that inspired us beyond those frills,” Divya Menon, founder of Bad Brain, in Los Angeles, told me. “When a company is truly grateful for that work and people go out of their way to write you a heartfelt text on Saturday about the work you put in, you realize how much more important that company is than just a salary or a bullet point on a résumé.”

According to Officevibe State of Employee Engagement in 2017, 63 percent of employees surveyed said they didn’t get enough recognition.

“I think it comes from a place of stress and fear, but startups have to realize that people sacrifice a lot of stability and notability to try and help out with a ‘cause,’” Menon said. “A startup is a risk for something we all believe in and think the world should have. Entrepreneurs should be really keyed into what their employees gave up to be there and let them know, meaningfully and frequently, how much it means to them.”

Encourage employee-leaders to recognize their teams in authentic ways. Lead by example to establish a culture of recognition. Thank employees often for the work they contribute individually and as a team.

 

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6 Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Downloads for Your App

6 Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Downloads for Your App

Okay folks, this helpful article teaches you ways to use search optimization to get the most downloads for your app. SEO is so important and I use it to help my clients with their blogs/social media. Read on for the tips..

6 Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Downloads for Your App

FULL ARTICLE CREDITS: click here

Many startups spend huge amounts of money on advertising, yet neglect app store optimization. App store optimization is the most cost-effective method to organically increase your installs for a couple of reasons:

According to Forrester, a staggering 63 percent of all app installs come from general browsing in the app store. By optimizing your app to be discovered through search, you can dramatically increase the number of downloads you receive for your mobile app.
It’s free! If you have a solid app store optimization strategy and execute properly, you will get tons of organic and free installs to your app.

Here are a few tips and tricks:

1. Choose the right title.

The title of your app ranks more heavily than the rest of the meta-data, so choose it wisely. Make sure you target words in your title that you want to hit the most, words that you’re confident about. Tools like SensorTower and AppAnnie can provide you accurate traffic volumes and difficulties of certain keywords. Also, make sure you don’t keyword stuff the title; the app store will reject your app.

2. Select situational keywords.

Depending on how many downloads and how much traffic your app is already getting, you must adjust your keywords. For example, if your app is already getting high traffic and downloads, you can target more competitive keywords that have higher traffic. If you are just starting up an app that nobody knows about and isn’t getting featured, I recommend choosing keywords that have a low difficulty level and medium traffic (according to analytic tools like SensorTower or AppAnnie). There are likely some keywords that are gems that others are not targeting and may have decent traffic.

3. Localize by country.

As every app store is separated geographically by country, it is really wise to localize your app to optimize it for discovery across different languages. The app store allows you to change the meta-data within your app depending on which country is searching for your app. Some companies have used a mixture of Google translate and native speakers to help localize their apps, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to localize as well. Localization is a huge aspect of having an effective presence globally. Just think of all these untapped markets that you can reach and how easily you could acquire more users with these markets.

4. Use powerful images and wording.

Once people are able to discover your app, the rest is up to how well your app listing converts into downloads. To optimize conversions, you must use beautiful images to entice users to want to download your app. Make sure to include the most attractive aspects of your app and to include captions in the pictures as well. You’d be surprised at how a simple tweak of an image or word can translate in terms of conversion percentages.

5. Pay attention to ratings, reviews and the description.

When was the last time you downloaded an app that had one star? Ratings and reviews don’t factor in as much to discovery as the keywords and the title, but they do have a huge impact on conversion rates. Users are probably more likely to download your app if it has received a large number of positive reviews. Make sure to also include an interesting and enticing description to explain to users what your app does!

6. Follow the data.

App store optimization is an ongoing process that takes experience, time and testing to get right. Make sure to thoroughly test out keywords over periods of time, and also test out the images/description of your app to see which ones are converting the best. At the end of the day, data doesn’t lie, so make sure you follow the data and find out what works for your app specifically.

 

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9 Things to Never Say

9 Things to Never Say

Anybody that knows me even a little would probably be able to tell you that I’m a freak for proper communication. My obsession relates to grammar, spelling, and the ever popular Mom phrase, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.”

Whether in business or personal communications, your words not only convey a specific message but also convey your own personality, skill, beliefs, and much more. As a human that cares about others and as an Online Business Management and Virtual Assistant; it is of paramount importance that what I convey tells folks that I care enough to have thought things through. If I had terrible communication skills I would not be a successful mother, entrepreneur, friend, or partner. I found this excellent article and while I may have written it differently, I totally agree with the 9 Things to Never Say.

9 Things to Never Say

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We’ve all said things that people interpreted much differently than we thought they would. These seemingly benign comments lead to the awful feeling that only comes when you’ve planted your foot firmly into your mouth.

Verbal slip-ups often occur because we say things without knowledge of the subtle implications they carry. Understanding these implications requires social awareness — the ability to pick up on the emotions and experiences of other people.
TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence (EQ) of more than a million people and discovered that social awareness is a skill in which many of us are lacking.

We lack social awareness because we’re so focused on what we’re going to say next — and how what other people are saying affects us — that we completely lose sight of other people.

This is a problem because people are complicated. You can’t hope to understand someone until you focus all of your attention in his or her direction.

The beauty of social awareness is that a few simple adjustments to what you say can vastly improve your relationships with other people.

To that end, there are some phrases that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in casual conversation. The following are the worst offenders. You should avoid them at all costs.

1. “You look tired.”

Tired people are incredibly unappealing — they have droopy eyes and messy hair, they have trouble concentrating, and they’re as grouchy as they come. Telling someone he looks tired implies all of the above and then some.

Instead say: “Is everything okay?” Most people ask if someone is tired because they’re intending to be helpful (they want to know if the other person is okay). Instead of assuming someone’s disposition, just ask. This way, he can open up and share. More importantly, he will see you as concerned instead of rude.

2. “You always…” or “You never…”

No one always or never does anything. People don’t see themselves as one-dimensional, so you shouldn’t attempt to define them as such. These phrases make people defensive and closed off to your message, which is a really bad thing because you likely use these phrases when you have something important to discuss.

Instead say: Simply point out what the other person did that’s a problem for you. Stick to the facts. If the frequency of the behavior is an issue, you can always say, “It seems like you do this often.” or “You do this often enough for me to notice.”

3. “As I said before…”

We all forget things from time to time. This phrase makes it sound as if you’re insulted at having to repeat yourself, which is hard on the recipient (someone who is genuinely interested in hearing your perspective). Getting insulted over having to repeat yourself suggests that either you’re insecure or you think you’re better than everyone else (or both!). Few people who use this phrase actually feel this way.

Instead say: When you say it again, see what you can do to convey the message in a clearer and more interesting manner. This way they’ll remember what you said.

4. “Good luck.”

This is a subtle one. It certainly isn’t the end of the world if you wish someone good luck, but you can do better because this phrase implies that they need luck to succeed.

Instead say: “I know you have what it takes.” This is better than wishing her luck because suggesting that she has the skills needed to succeed provides a huge boost of confidence. You’ll stand out from everyone else who simply wishes her luck.

5. “It’s up to you.“ or “Whatever you want.”

While you may be indifferent to the question, your opinion is important to the person asking (or else he wouldn’t have asked you in the first place).

Instead say: ”I don’t have a strong opinion either way, but a couple things to consider are…” When you offer an opinion (even without choosing a side), it shows that you care about the person asking.

6. “Well at least I’ve never ___.”

This phrase is an aggressive way to shift attention away from your mistake by pointing out an old, likely irrelevant mistake the other person made (and one you should have forgiven her for by now).

Instead say: “I’m sorry.” Owning up to your mistake is the best way to bring the discussion to a more rational, calm place so that you can work things out. Admitting guilt is an amazing way to prevent escalation.

7. “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!”

Once again, a well-meaning comment — in this case a compliment — creates the impression that you’re being critical. Telling someone that she has lost a lot of weight suggests that she used to look fat or unattractive.

Instead say: “You look fantastic.” This one is an easy fix. Instead of comparing how she looks now to how she used to look, just compliment her for looking great. It takes the past right out of the picture.

8. “You were too good for her anyway.”

When someone severs ties with a relationship of any type, personal or professional, this comment implies he has bad taste and made a poor choice in the first place.

Related: 10 Misused Words That Make Smart People Look Stupid

Instead say: “Her loss!” This provides the same enthusiastic support and optimism without any implied criticism.

9. “You look great for your age.”

Using “for your” as a qualifier always comes across as condescending and rude. No one wants to be smart for an athlete or in good shape relative to other people who are also knocking on death’s door. People simply want to be smart and fit.

Instead say: “You look great.” This one is another easy fix. Genuine compliments don’t need qualifiers.

Bringing It All Together

In everyday conversation, it’s the little things that make all the difference. Try these suggestions out, and you’ll be amazed at the positive response you get.

 
 

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Why Henry Ford’s Most Famous Quote is Dead Wrong

Why Henry Ford’s Most Famous Quote is Dead Wrong

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Most folks are aware of my love for Harley Davidson motorcycles. Most folks know Henry Ford was a 4-wheeled entrepreneur, but they may not know he was involved in Harley Davidson’s formative years. And being from the south where “Spanish Moss” grows heavily, I have a quirky tickle that Ford used this natural resource to stuff his automobile seats. And so, when I saw Henry Ford in the title of this article, I had to click it and read more. In particular, I found this paragraph thought provoking:

“While your customers may not know the form factors available to them (that’s where you as a business can innovate), they often understand their problems, or can, at minimum, communicate enough information so that you can use customer feedback appropriately to grow your business.”

As an Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant, my clients come to me knowing they need help in this, that, or the other area; yet they don’t always know what’s involved in making their vision come to life. This is actually the best part of my job – taking a client’s vision and surprising them with exceptional results they didn’t even know were possible.

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Henry Ford was one of the world’s great innovators and a quotable gentleman at that, particularly in the realms of business and innovation. Perhaps the most famous quote attributed to Ford is this: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

While there’s no real proof Ford ever said this, the words are still applied to him as proof that true innovation is done without customer input. But, even if one of the most successful businessmen in American history had said it, it wouldn’t make the maxim any more applicable.

In fact, customers would probably have told Ford exactly what they wanted — specifically, a faster mode of transportation. They might not have mentioned the need for a combustion engine, but that’s part of the art and science of understanding customer feedback.

While your customers may not know the form factors available to them (that’s where you as a business can innovate), they often understand their problems, or can, at minimum, communicate enough information so that you can use customer feedback appropriately to grow your business. Here’s how.

Ask good questions.

Often, customers know what they want, but don’t know how to articulate it. So, ask specific questions that allow you to glean insights to use for your innovation. For example, using multiple-choice questions (with an option for “other” and space to write in an answer) is a good way to survey your customers. Studies show that giving a customer too many choices often nets you poor feedback, but it’s also important to give them the opportunity to bring up something you haven’t anticipated.

You should also ask about their personal or business problems. If you are selling and innovating with technology for small businesses, don’t ask features-based questions, because most small business customers aren’t thinking about technology features. They are trying to make more money, save time, save costs, etc. So, ask questions around their problems and then bridge the gap with your innovation — much like Ford did.

Study behavior and numbers.

Numbers and behavior are more reliable feedback indicators than words alone. If your customers say they love a product in green, but they keep buying blue, stick with the blue. Be relentless in studying your data and behaviors to make sure that their words match their actions.

Beware of the vocal minority.

While it’s important to look at feedback, including from online channels and customer service, you need to delve into who is giving that feedback. For example, if you are getting posts about a problem, make it’s a real problem. If it doesn’t exist, ignore it.

The same goes for wants. A handful of people may be squeaky wheels about a personal want, but that doesn’t mean the broader base of customers wants it, so do more research.

Also, check for minions. Are the same group of people always asking for something or complaining together? If so, they may be just a co-dependent group of trolls. If you are seeing different customers giving feedback and input around the same issues, that is more likely to be reliable than many posts or asks from the same group of people. The exception to this is when the group is considered influential among your customer base.

It’s usually a good trick to solicit your feedback through private polls instead of public ones so your community isn’t swayed by the vocal minority.

Sample a relevant group.

Reach out to your best existing and desired target customers to get a broader scope of feedback. If you aren’t sure what your customers think, ask a meaningful number of them. Shockingly, customers are more likely to give you feedback if you actually ask them (and if they feel like offering it will ultimately benefit them). But, make sure that they are truly buyers — if responders aren’t going to buy your product, their responses don’t help you or them.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Entrepreneurship

 

5 Habits of Successful People Before 8 a.m.

5 Habits of Successful People Before 8 a.m.

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5 Habits of Successful People Before 8 a.m.

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I found this article and while it has some useful information, I do believe that effective habits are not “one size fits all”. As an Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant, I practice these basic habits but with a little different approach. I hope you find value in these tips and tweak them for your own success.

The difference between successful people and everyone else is the way they utilize time. With only so many hours in a day, you need to maximize those hours. The best of the best are up early and getting to work before their peers have rolled out of bed. So, what are the top five habits of successful people before 8 am?

1. Use a real alarm clock.
You might look at this tip and wonder what difference it really makes. A real alarm clock forces you to get out of bed. For example, if you use your phone as an alarm clock all you have to do is reach over and press the screen. Unsurprisingly, most people take five more minutes.

But if the alarm clock is on the other side of the room, you’re forced to get out of bed. Furthermore, using a real alarm clock discourages you from checking social media and wasting precious time.

I don’t know about you but I haven’t owned a ‘real alarm clock’ in ages. I do use my iPhone as an alarm, not only for waking up, but as extra insurance to really important meetings, calls, or actions I need to take. I set my alarm 15 minutes before I dedicate my foot to hit the floor. Yes, I do snooze but I am not falling back to sleep. I use a tone that is loud enough to wake me but not a shrill or obnoxious noise (like nails on a chalkboard).

2. Take some time to breathe.
Successful people don’t leap out of bed and head for the computer. They understand the importance of reducing stress and relaxing. More often than not, they’re the people enjoying a cup of coffee or reading a book before they get started with the day’s work.
Rituals like this will enable you to clear your head and get yourself in the right state of mind for the day ahead.

I sort of giggled at this one… With only one leg, I don’t “leap” anywhere. I have by default slowed my roll so to speak. The routine of putting my prosthetic on allows me a couple of minutes to be thankful each morning, giving me motivation to make this day a great day. Then I usually head straight for the coffee pot.

3. Set out your clothes the night before.
Setting out your clothes for the next day is a sign of an organized mind. It means the next day is going to be all about what you’re going to do, rather than focusing on trivial matters. This will save you time the next day and enable you to maximize every single minute.

Being a Virtual Assistant I can work from anywhere and still be in my jammies. But when I was in the corporate world of proper dress, traffic jams, and shared offices; I did select my clothes the evening before. Now I will grant you that if I have a video conference, I do get cleaned up and dressed. Your appearance says a lot about you, so be comfortable and dress according to who your profession.

4. Get in a workout.
Fitness is important for your health. Successful people prioritize a workout for another reason though. Exercise is scientifically proven to get those endorphins racing. Endorphins are the happy drugs that your brain produces in certain circumstances, and one of them is exercise.

It doesn’t have to be a sweaty, exhausting workout. It could involve some gentle minutes on an exercise bike, a short jog or a yoga session. Find something that works for you.

I have a habit of doing 3 small workouts during the day and even sometimes a few stretches when I need a break from sitting in my desk chair. When I was in the corporate world I even learned a few stretches that can be done standing at a copy machine, standing in your office, and even sitting in my desk chair.

5. Read something you enjoy.
We mentioned earlier how successful people tend to read when they get up early. They don’t watch TV or catch up on work emails. Reading gets the brain working, and it improves comprehension. But reading something negative or something boring, such as that email from your boss, sets a tone for the day.

Consider starting off the day with a self-improvement book or something that you can learn from. For example, if you’re interested in financial news start with that.

I read for a living so it’s sometimes hard to really get involved in a good book or magazine. I do however like to spend about an hour each day reading online news and articles that relate to motorcycling, entrepreneurship and educational materials for marketing. I close out most of my days reading my Highway for Hope Bible but you can read whatever you like, of course. Perhaps consider closing your day with a self improvement book, an industry magazine, or something that makes you smile.

Together these rituals are going to keep you healthy and productive, setting a positive tone for the day ahead. Don’t try to implement these changes all at once. Some minor changes implemented gradually will help you to adjust to your new morning routine.

 

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